Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cream Puffs

I always wonder how a cream puff is made hollow inside. Did the baker scrape the inside and fill it up with cream ? After some research and reading, I finally crack the mystery. The dough is cooked with a lot of liquid and bake. The cooking and stirring enhance the development of gluten thus provide a good rise in the oven. The moisture is turned into steam and expand during baking. This in turn causes the dough to rise and turn hollow. This is food science, so interesting.

Pate a Choux

Makes 30 small puffs

1 cup water                                     
¾ stick (or 6 tbsp vegetable oil) unsalted butter                      
1 tsp sugar                                      
1 c/142 g unbleached all purpose flour                    
4 large eggs 
1)   Preheat oven to 425 F.
2)   Bring the water, sugar and butter (or oil) to a boil.
3)   Add all the flour at once and stir the paste for about 2 minutes over medium heat.

4)   Cool the paste down for 5 minutes and transfer to a stand mixer with the paddle (or use a spoon to mix). Run in low and add the eggs, one at a time. Mix well.

5)   Spoon (or use an ice cream scoop) or pipe the dough onto a Silpat (or parchment paper) about 1 inch big and evenly spaced them.

6)   Spray them with water and put in the preheated oven. Spray the floor and walls of the oven to create steam. Close the door and turn down the heat to 400 F and bake for 30 minutes.
7)   Cut a small slit on the side of the puff to release steam.

8)  It can be made into a nice dessert by filling with whipped cream.

Or cut open and fill with savory spread to make an appetizer.


1)  Water can be substituted with milk to make it more rich.
2)  Wet a spoon and use the back of it to smooth out the dough to make it nice and round.
3)  Do not open the oven door during baking, at least for the first 15 minutes, because it may lose heat and do not puff up.
4)  Immediately poke a hole after baking to release steam so it will not become soggy.

Recipe adapted from Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Beranbaum.

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